Kinds of yoga
Kinds of Yoga
No one knows when exactly yoga appeared. It is only known that it was thousands of years ago. In the beginning yoga knowledge was forwarded only verbally from the Teacher to students, later in a written form. It is considered that there are four written yoga sources that have reached us, and those are four Vedas: Rigveda, Yajurveda, Samaveda and Atharvaveda. In the ancient times yoga was regarded as one of the most important systems for the person to discover the huge inner potential, leading to self-exploration and realization. Yoga helped people to survive through difficult periods of life, and there was a plenty of such periods in the history of humanity. Unfortunately, we have received only crumbs of this knowledge.
One teaching with many kinds
Yoga is the one, whole teaching. Different kinds of yoga lead to the same result. There is a plenty of yoga areas and directions. Our OpenYoga school works with about 30 and half of them that we explore in more detail. Advanced areas of yoga are studied only when basic areas of yoga are covered. Because only after becoming familiar with the basics a person is capable to get a notion of the advanced kinds of yoga.
Hatha yoga, which primarily works with our physical body, has reached us almost in full amount. The reason is as follows: yoga is a heritage of more ancient knowledge, which is gradually disappearing. Nevertheless it has partly reached us. We are probably the heirs of an ancient civilization that most probably has given us yoga. In various yoga schools there are some stories about the saved knowledge. According to these stories, the yoga knowledge is a kind of spiritual seeds, which are waiting for the appropriate time to sprout. Hundreds of years the humanity was not ready to accept this teaching. They had neither material nor social conditions: chain of epidemics, revolutions, wars. But despite of this the yoga knowledge has been preserved.
From the North
There is a hypothesis that the yoga knowledge was stored somewhere in the North, but no one knows exactly where. If we look from the territory of India the north can be Himalayas, from the territory of Afghanistan or Iran there is the territory of Russia. If we look from Russia then there is the North Pole. There is only a vague indication that the civilization that had the yoga knowledge, was located to the North. Due to some reasons this civilization started disappearing. Wise men have warned the followers that hard times were approaching. They said that the life in coming époques will be extremely severe, all knowledge can be lost. That there is the only place, where it is possible to avoid troubles and destruction. This place is somewhere in the region of Himalayas, Nepal and India. Followers listened to the wise men and started migrating from the North to the territory of modern India. This process lasted for several generations. On their way some groups of people separated from the majority and started residing where they left the group. They didn’t want to continue the journey. Sometimes they started fighting with each other. But the core – yoga knowledge carriers –reached the territory of modern India and Nepal and delivered the doctrine to the place where it was supposed to be stored.
The following events have confirmed the words of wise men. The people who left the main group kept following the yoga teaching for some time. But the matter of the physical survival grew very sharp due to epidemics and wars and yoga knowledge there was lost more quickly than in India. Moreover, people migrated from the North to the South without being aware of the conditions. It was very dangerous. At that time some more practical kinds of yoga appeared. These kinds of yoga helped people to survive. Now it is called a primeval magic. But it was not the magic. All these methods resulted from the core of the knowledge of yoga. Historians think that fourth Veda, Artharvaveda, has appeared exactly during this migration process. It contains positive as well as negative incantations. These were such fine practices created to cope with problems of their lives and enemies. But the times changed and many kinds of yoga started disappearing. The language started to change and it was the foundation of the teaching. In the Vedic language the pronunciation had prime meaning and only then the writing. And every word is a mantra. Then nobody would give preference to the written form rather than the pronunciation. So the same thing could be written in different ways (with different letters) and this created some mess.
Some reconstructions are made by linguists. Language is another indirect proof that shows the terminology appearance and transformation. The Indo-European group of languages, obviously shows this. Many Sanskrit terms can be easily understood without translation. Sanskrit is the main language of yoga, which has reached us. Before Sanskrit there was so-called Vedic Sanskrit, which is even more ancient form. Vedic Sanskrit differs from Sanskrit.
How many kinds of yoga exist?
So how many kinds and directions of yoga exist? There are as many kinds of yoga as there are ways a people can express themselves. We have a physical body. We can make static poses. So we have hatha yoga. We have a possibility to breathe. So there is pranayama or breathing yoga. We have eyes. Sometimes our mind reacts on forms, which we see, without realizing it. It creates the grounding for yantra yoga. Composers have a possibility to hear the music of spheres and write it down. This is the nada yoga. The capability to demonstrate the dominance skills was a precondition for the appearance of the raja yoga. This list could be continued on and on.
Which kind of yoga is dominating now?
Historically advanced kinds of yoga have reached in less amount than the classical methods. The question of the physical survival was very sharp in lives of ancient people. Thereby, “down-to-Earth yoga” is in a better condition compared to the advanced areas of yoga.
For example, hatha yoga. And it is clear why. Because, if the foundation is not ready (i.e., strong physical body) there is no sense even to talk about meditation or any more complicated and fine area. That’s why the West was interested in hatha yoga most of all? Some areas of yoga were not acceptable for certain periods of time.
For example, the ones discussing the sexuality openly. If you start studying jnana yoga you will gain the understanding of contemporary science theory concerning the Universe. Jnana is talking about the same things only from a different position. This yoga is not based on science, neither math nor physics, this knowledge has appeared by itself.
Yoga classification. Where to start?
Yoga can be classified in many different ways. The classical methods and advanced (fast) methods, the ones working more with our energy and the ones working more with our consciousness, yoga for various professions, kinds of yoga related to our creativity. We should start with the classical yoga methods, making focus on our physical body, and then move on to the more advanced areas. And it is desirable to by serious to all kinds of yoga as they can be a very useful source for our modern life. Any kind of a human activity can be turned into some kind of yoga, if you understand the ancient core that is beyond the limits and if it is the base of yoga knowledge. There are no words to explain the core of yoga. It is above words and ideas, but if you‘ll manage to catch the meaning you can turn any activity into yoga and revive it. The core of yoga is knowledge and it comes after a long practice, it cannot be given from one to another but it can only be rediscovered by the person oneself. And yoga aximotics says that whatever was discovered by one person can be discovered by somebody else.
Yoga and similar teachings
One more important notice - yoga came to other countries from India, in other cultures. And new philosophical teachings emerged analogue to yoga but the term «yoga» was never used there. With penetration of yoga to the East Sufism appeared. The highest goals and concepts are the same as in yoga but terms and practices differ – still the essence is the same. Let’s take a look on Tibet. There is a group of similar teachings. Some of them even contain the word «yoga».
First of all, these are The Six Dharmas of Naropa, the core of Tantric Buddhist practices and Dzogchen is yogic, but they are exposed through different cultural traditions on the religious grounding. But as we remember, yoga is beyond the religion. When you will start understanding yoga you will also start understanding these directions and will see where they are going wrong.